In a perfectly understandable desire to do everything we can for our children’s future selves, it’s tempting to fill their current lives with “enrichment activities.” Thankfully there are ways to fulfill this desire with actually fun, age-appropriate games. Kids will clamor to play cards with you, and they need never know they’re learning along the way!
Card games benefit childhood development in many ways. Developing math skills may be the most apparent, but there are also broader cognitive skills that can be helped along. Focus, memory, visual processing, and strategic thinking are all areas of potential improvement through card games.
Social, or “soft” skills used to be overlooked when thinking about how to help our children succeed in life. These days it’s understood that good interpersonal skills are essential to successful work and personal lives. Even very young children can reinforce such skills through classic card games such as Go Fish or Old Maid.
Playing card games with kids can help to:
Develop cognitive skills
You don’t have to be playing Concentration to improve concentration! Playing any card game will improve the broad underlying cognitive skills all kids need. Even the youngest child playing the simplest game is learning to focus on what’s in front of them. Older children will move on to developing strategic thinking and improving mental processing speed.
Young children, as well as older children with ADHD, can develop greater patience and self-control through taking turns. They can practice maintaining their focus on a group activity even when it isn’t their turn to be the active player. Children of all ages and attention levels, not to mention adults who have a bit of an addiction to their smartphones, will benefit from the non-digital nature of playing physical games like Old Maid.
Visual processing is a particularly vital cognitive ability in our highly visual and fast-moving modern world. Card games are a great way to improve the speed and accuracy of visual processing.
Make math fun
Math isn’t just memorizing the times tables. You can start practicing “pre-math” activities with babies and toddlers, but certainly by the time kids are in preschool parents and/or teachers will want to be consciously introducing key concepts and ways of thinking that will lead to success in math.
Pattern recognition is one of the earliest math skills kids learn, so even pre-numerate kids can improve their math skills with card games. Older kids can gain fluency with numbers, arithmetic, and strategic thinking.
Develop social skills
Playing cards is itself a handy lifelong social skill. More broadly, playing games like Old Maid or Crazy Eights reinforces a variety of social skills handy in all situations. These skills include: taking turns, winning and losing gracefully, playing with people of different ages and abilities, and combining focus on a task with fun and conversation.
Old Maids Gone Fishing – Popular Games to Play
There are so many card games to choose from! The classics are a good place to start: Go Fish, War, Crazy Eights, Old Maid, Uno, Spit, and the list goes on. Pick up a pack, gather the kids, and start playing!